Gendered violence: Castration and blinding as punishment for treason in Normandy and Anglo-Norman England

Faculty/Professorship: Medieval History  
Author(s): Eickels, Klaus van
Publisher Information: Bamberg : Otto-Friedrich-Universität
Year of publication: 2023
Pages: 588-602
Source/Other editions: Gender & History, 16 (2004), 3, S. 588 - 602. - ISSN: 0953-5233. DOI: 10.1111/j.0953-5233.2004.00357.x
is version of: 10.1111/j.0953-5233.2004.00357.x
Year of first publication: 2004
Language(s): English
Licence: German Act on Copyright 
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-irb-586115
The use of castration as a punishment for treason and other forms of misdemeanour was a specific trait of the Norman realms of medieval Europe. In the post-Carolingian kingdoms of France, Germany and Italy, it was rarely practised and only known as a punishment for sexual crimes. In Scandinavia, Normandy, Anglo-Norman England and Norman Sicily, however, blinding and castration were regarded as an appropriate equivalent of the death penalty. The particular emphasis on masculinity implied in the Norman construction of noble honour, rendered the Norman warrior's body particularly vulnerable. Since his testicles were regarded as the prerequisite of his social existence, they became a legitimate point of attack whenever the ruler felt betrayed and decided to use force against his enemies. This gendered violence constituted a constantly renewed frame of reference, which defined political power as male and reinforced the notion that authority required a fully functional masculine body.
GND Keywords: England; Normandie; Blendung; Kastration; Verrat; Strafe; Geschichte 1000-1300
Keywords: gender, violence
DDC Classification: 943 History of Germany  
RVK Classification: NM 9300   
Type: Article
Release Date: 12. May 2023

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